Thirty reasons marriage matters more than ever

Published: Saturday, June 9 2012 10:04 p.m. MDT

Children are most likely to enjoy family stability when they are born into a married family Next » 2 of 31 « Prev
There is an emerging scholarly consensus that family stability in and of itself is linked to positive child outcomes. By contrast, children who are exposed to family transitions — from a divorce to the breakup of a mother's romantic relationship with a live-in boyfriend — are more likely to experience behavioral problems, drug use, problems in school, early sex and loneliness.

Only 13 percent of children born to married parents experience a maternal partnership transition by age 3 compared to 50 percent of cohabiting parents.

Family transitions are thought to harm a mother's ability to interact positively with her child(ren) by affecting her economic, social and psychological resources. They also necessitate the establishment of new routines and relationships that may be difficult for children to navigate.
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Old Jake
Salt Lake City, UT

Lazy and uncommitted people make for lame parents.


Marriage equality, or in other words same sex marriage, constitutes a complex household.

Brian H.
Provo, UT

This isn't very good research - it's not even peer reviewed. The best scholars in family studies agree that family structure makes no difference for children's well being. Sure, it's well established that the married two-biological parent household is strongly correlated with economic advantages, family stability and educational achievement, but most of that correlation is due to selection effects. The people that are most likely to earn a high income are also the ones who are most likely to marry rather than cohabit, etc. Cohabitation and single parenthood are hugely disproportionate among low-education and low-SES groups, so it's really the lack of resources that affects children, not family structure per se. The families with fewest resources are more likely to experience instability in their families. Even relatively conservative scholars like Andrew Cherlin (favors marriage) don't say that family structure causes poorer outcomes for children. This research is completely bogus according to academic standards. If I was a reviewer at one of the top family journals, I'd reject this outright.

Provo, UT

I agree that it it is weak on the surface, but then I went to the Institute for American Values website and saw the 20 pages of endnotes backing the group's findings. I was reading today in Family Routines and Rituals by Barbara Fiese. In the book she concludes that poverty has an undetermined effect on the salience of family rituals, (and therefore stability of a home.) Strong correlation was found for unity and symbols. What counts most in family is structure.
Strong negative correlations to salience were found in the loss that results from a change in household dynamics. Change can be a major disruption of family. Recognizing resources/educational attainment as important to family dynamics- ok. Basing an argument for family stability on resources/attainment alone? I don't think so.


Brian H. you need sources. I've never seen a good study that concludes "family structure makes no difference for a child's well-being." As to your assertion that "it's really the lack of resources, not family structure per se", perhaps you missed conclusion #3, "The benefits of marriage extend to poor, working-class and minority communities." I don't know why you are instantly condemning this article, I'm sure you have your reasons, but that is no excuse for being a lazy reader. But perhaps I'm making assumptions. Perhaps you did not actually read the entire article. In which case I apologize for insinuating that you have poor reading comprehension skills. Still no excuse for comments that are clearly addressed in the article.

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